|previous article in this issue||next article in this issue|
Document Details :
Title: 'Perlege totum librum'
Subtitle: How Montaigne read his Lucretius
Author(s): ROOSE, A.
Volume: 65 Issue: 3 Date: 2004-07-01
Michel de Montaigne inherited a copy of Lucretius’ De rerum natura from his bosom friend, Etienne de La Boétie. He read it carefully and annotated it with pleasure. A comparative study of the successive editions of the Essais reveals the continuous presence of this didactic poem composed by the most famous of all epicureans. The humanist-philosopher shares with Lucretius and Augustine a critical perspective on the capacities men attribute to themselves. Montaigne uses not only this epicurean poem against Augustine – the gods do not care about the fortune of men –, he pushes the argument even further alleging that men, and thus Lucretius, are far too insignificant to understand the gods and the universe. The young Montaigne was mostly above all fascinated by the moral strength of the stoics. As he became older he questionned the legitimacy of their philosophical conceptions. But their spiritual exercices helped him, even in it his older years, to cope with human dereliction.